Background: Tessa Thompson, who plays Diane Nash; Omar Dorsey, who plays James Orange; Colman Domingo, who plays Ralph Abernathy; David Oyelowo, who plays Martin Luther King Jr.; André Holland, who plays Andrew Young; Corey Reynolds, who plays the Rev. C.T. Vivian; and Lorraine Toussaint, who plays Amelia Boynton in the movie Selma.
Atsushi Nishijima

The world got its first look at the much anticipated motion picture Selma when the movie’s trailer was released this week. The film depicts the bloody, tension-filled voting-rights marches that took place in 1965 from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala., led by Martin Luther King Jr.

Back in September, director Ava DuVernay was still editing Selma when she gave attendees of Urbanworld in New York City a sneak preview of the film.

“I always knew King was badass, but no one really talks about that. He’s been homogenized to a speech and a statue,” DuVernay told the Urbanworld crowd. It was her desire to change that image. She wanted to show King as a real man. “What we are attempting to do is present Dr. King as a man. Not a statue, not a speech, not a picture, but as a brother who had a wife, who had a complicated relationship with her and the people around him. Who was sometimes great and sometimes not so great,” said DuVernay.

David Oyelowo portrays King. He is a classically trained British-born actor who has few physical characteristics in common with MLK, so it was a challenging role. He told The Root's Julie Walker “It’s very costly emotionally, physically, spiritually. You cannot go into an endeavor like this without going there. King felt a lot of guilt about the people who were cut down because of the movement and the cost on his children, his wife. So you have to go there, and I can proudly say I went there.”

The films opens in limited engagement on Christmas Day and nationwide January 2015.